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tv   Meet the Press  NBC  April 10, 2011 10:30am-11:30am EDT

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this sunday, showdown over spending, but a government shutdown was averted at the 11th hour. >> this agreement between democrats and republicans, on behalf of all americans, is about a budget that invests in our future while making the largest annual spending cut in our history. >> still, an embarrassment for all sides in washington. partisan attacks. >> our president isn't leading. he didn't lead on last year's budget, and he clearly isn't leading on this year's budget. >> while our soldiers in afghanistan and iraq had to worry about whether they'd get paid if the government closed. >> this is a dangerous moment for our economy and for our country. and frankly, it's an
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embarrassing moment for the congress of the united states. >> so, what does the final deal look like and who came out ahead politically? with us, president obama's senior adviser, david plouffe. then, the budget fight isn't over. >> if we stay on the current path, we are heading toward a debt-fueled economic crisis. >> what does the near shutdown mean for negotiations over next year's budget? and a growing debt crisis fueled by spending on programs like medicare and social security. here for an exclusive interview this morning, the chairman of the house budget committee, congressman paul ryan of wisconsin. finally, our political roundtable weighs in on how the budget showdown was merely a preview of the 2012 campaign. spending cuts, the tea party influence and the fight for independent voters. with us, white house correspondent for "the new york times," helene cooper, chairman and ceo of the special olympics
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and contributor to "the washington post," tim shriver, host of cnbc's "mad money," jim cramer, and nbc's chief white house correspondent and political director, chuck todd. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good morning. after signing a temporary order to keep the government up and running, the president made a surprise visit to the lincoln memorial saturday, determined to put the best spin possible on those down-to-the-wire budget negotiations. >> because congress was able to settle its differences, that's why this place is open today and everybody is able to enjoy their visit. >> the compromise measure expected to clear congress and be signed by the president this week calls for $38.5 billion in cuts for the remaining six months of the fiscal year, and none of those controversial policy demands from conservatives were included.
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some republicans, though, promising to renew a separate measure to cut funding for planned parenthood. this fight does foreshadow battles ahead over next year's budget and the debt ceiling. with us this morning, the man who ran the president's 2008 election campaign and now a senior adviser at the white house and one of the key figures behind his re-election bid, david plouffe. welcome back to "meet the press." >> good to be with you, david. >> does the president feel some responsibility for all that transpired, a near government shutdown? >> well, it obviously went up to the wire, but i actually think it was a good moment moving forward here. our leaders in both parties on behalf of all americans showed they could come together, compromise. compromise, by the way, cannot be a dirty word. it's the way we're going to move forward as a country in divided government. so, we cut spending, biggest annual spending cut in the history of the country, while still protecting investments in education, in infrastructure and research and development, the things we're going to need in the future going forward. >> but a person can't view what happened and say this is a shining moment for washington. >> obviously, things got heated.
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the president's approach, as you saw, was to encourage all parties to come together, not to engage in a spitball battle back and forth. i think trust and understanding was built up between the speaker and president and vice president and senate majority leader. so, hopefully, going forward this can be a model. we'll have tough disagreements. it's going to be hard to bridge divides, but we have to find common ground, or else we're not going to move forward on education, growing our economy and reducing our deficit. >> but the top officials in the government shouldn't feel embarrassed at a time of high gas prices and deficit and war that we almost shut the government down? >> the president spoke about it often this week, his message to the people and to washington was exactly that, we have an economy that's recovering but is still fragile. we have high gas prices, turmoil around the world. certainly, we can come together to an agreement and that's what we did. at the end of the day, again it might have been messy getting there, it went up to the wire, but i think it was an important moment, and it shows, listen, the president came together with
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republicans and democrats on behalf of the country in december, led an effort to cut taxes. and now we've come together to cut spending. so, i think it should give us some confidence moving forward. >> how we got to this moment is one that will be debated as well, and some democrats are already doing that. the president, as he was trying to bring the two sides, came out and spoke this week. and on wednesday -- this is one of the things that he said. >> at a time when you're struggling to pay your bills and meet your responsibilities, the least we can do is meet our responsibilities to produce a budget. >> but last year, mr. plouffe, when the democrats ran the entire government, they failed to do just that, what the president said, to put up and pass a budget. isn't that what got us here? >> well, obviously, it would have been much better to have the budget passed last year, and there was a moment it looked like it would in december, it didn't. we got a lot done in december, obviously. >> that was failed democratic leadership, wasn't it? >> well, and we moved forward to this year. and i think the important thing is, both parties came together. and again, as the president said
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friday night to the nation, these were some tough cuts, cuts in some programs that he thinks work very well and are important to the country. but in the fiscal situation we're in, everyone's going to have to give. and in order to invest in things like education, in medical research and infrastructure, programs like head start and college loans, the only way we're going to do that in a fiscal situation is to live within our means. and so, that's the president's approach both in this debate and moving forward. we still have to make those critical investments, but we're going to have to reduce the deficit in a significant way. >> let's talk a little bit about that because one of the fights still ahead get more difficult here. you were debating tens of billions down to the wire it gets into maybe $14 trillion debt, as you know. senator kay bailey hutchison said on cnn on friday, "this question of raising the debt ceiling" which will occur later in the spring or summer, becomes crucial. here's what she said. >> but really, the debt ceiling is going to be armageddon. i mean, that is the one where we have got to see reform before
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the debt ceiling is raised. >> what is the president prepared to do in terms of reforms to get bipartisan consensus to raise that debt ceiling? >> well, first of all, the president's been very clear from the state of the union address on that we need to come together in this country, people in both parties in congress to reduce the deficit. the president will be laying out his approach to long-term debt reduction later this week, and i think that we have to focus on that. the debt ceiling is something that has to be raised every once in a while. it's something the speaker of the house, john boehner, has said if we didn't raise it would bring a financial disaster both in this country and around the world. economist after economist have said it would raise interest rates, it could wreak havoc on the housing market, on the economy. it could be a catastrophic failure for the united states economy if we didn't raise -- >> here's the thing, senator, she called it armageddon. >> well -- >> what do you do to prevent that?
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not a lot of confidence the way this went. >> the speaker of the house was right, we need to act like adults in this. mitch mcconnell, harry reid, eric cantor, john boehner, all the leaders have said we have to raise the debt limit, so we're going to. but in that process, we should be able to reduce the deficit. so, we should not be playing brinksmanship with a full faith and credit of the united states of america. so, of course we're going to do that, but what we need to do at the same time, in the months ahead, is we've got to decide -- and it's going to be a tough fight -- how are we going to reduce the deficit, get ao a more sustainable fiscal trajectory, but that doesn't cost the economy or grow jobs. >> laying out the deficit count, that's new this morning, and i want to break that down a bit. back in november of last year, the president set up a debt commission, and he said a lot of things to the american people, including this -- >> i set up this commission precisely because i'm prepared to make some tough decisions.
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i can't make them alone. i'm going to need congress to work with me. if we are concerned about debt and deficits, then we're going to have to take actions that are difficu difficult, and we're going to have to tell the truth to the american people. >> he said that, and yet, the debt commission came back with its recommendations and the president failed to act on them. republicans have, however. the path to prosperity, as congressman paul ryan's budget plan -- he'll be on the program, as you know, in just a few moments. will this be a basis for what the president proposes to the american people about how to cut the deficit? >> well, let me tell you what the president has done and will say. his budget he just put out for next year would reduce $1 trillion over the next ten years. it would bring domestic spending to the lowest level since president eisenhower. many of the debt commission, deficit commission suggestions were in the president's budget. for instance, freezing the pay
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of federal workers for a period of time, fundamental reform of the government. we obviously then have to do more, and that's what the president's going at. now, the republican congressional plan that came out this week, you know, they put some specific ideas out. they should be credited for that. there's a couple in there we agree with. they, for instance, preserve the savings from the health care reform in medicare. by the way, the health care reform is going to save $1 trillion in the deficit over the next two years. the president led on that. very important starting point. but the congressional republican plan, for instance, projections would give the average millionaire a $200,000 tax cut while asking more of the middle class. the average senior down the road would pay $6,000 more for health care. it cuts our energy investments at a time we're dealing with high gas prices by 70%. so, we are obviously not going to sign on with that approach, but what's clear is, like on any issue in washington, we have divided government. so, we're going to have to bring leaders together and figure out
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where we can find -- >> so, if i were an american -- the good thing is, leaders in both parties now say it's very important to reduce the deficit and the debt. >> will the president take on entitlements when he speaks this week? will he lay out a plan to reform entitlements, medicare, social security, the biggest drivers of our debt? >> well, i'll let the president speak for himself later in the week -- >> well, we know these are huge issues. if you're serious about tackling the debt, don't you have to -- >> let me say this. he said this in the state of the union. even though his health care reform plan, which by the. way, many congressional republicans want to appeal -- so they'll have to explain how to make up the $1 trillion in deficit reduction. so we have savings in health care. we have to do more. so you'll have to look at medicare and medicaid and see what savings you can get. first squeeze them out of the system before you squeeze seniors. secondly, on social security, what he said is that is not a driver right now of significant cost, but in the process of sitting down and talking about our spending and our program, if there can be a discussion about
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how to strengthen social security in the future, he's eager to have that discussion. >> is this plan, congressman ryan's plan, dead on arrival? >> well, listen, certainly, the president is not going to support a lot of what's in that plan. again -- >> any chance that this gets passed? >> it may pass the house. it's not going to become law. and i don't think the american people are going to sign up for something that puts most of the burden on the middle class, people trying to go to college, on senior citizens, while not just asking nothing of the wealthy, giving them at least a $200,000 tax cut. so, that's a choice you're making. >> you bring up taxes, though. >> yeah. >> in the president's plan, as he envisions tackling the deficit, do taxes have to go up? does that have to be part of this equation across the board? >> well, this is part of his budget for next year. he has said he believes taxes on the higher income, people over $250,000, should eventually go up. >> can you tackle the deficit without raising taxes on even the middle class?
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>> i think the president's goal, and he's been clear about this, is to protect the middle class as we move forward. so, people like cannwho have th to pay more. under the congressional budget plan, people who make $250,000 get over $1 trillion in tax relief. this is important. you're making a choice. you're asking the seniors of the middle class to pay more. you wouldn't be having to do that if you weren't giving the very wealthiest in this country enormous tax breaks. >> still no new taxes on the middle class, that's a re-election pledge? >> well, the president's been very clear. first of all, i'd say in his term in office, he's cut taxes for the middle class over and over again. very important. just at the end of last year, the parties came together to extend tax cuts for the middle class, also passed a payroll tax cut, giving the average family $1,000 this year, which has been a huge driver in terms of helping the economy. but also as families are dealing with higher gas and food prices, the ability to shoulder those little bit. >> i want to follow and close
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here on another pledge that the president made in the course of the campaign having to do with the prison down at guantanamo bay, cuba. this is what he said in the course of the campaign. >> as president, i will close guantanamo, reject the military commissions act and adhere to the geneva conventions. >> he has not closed guantanamo, one of his first promises as president. in fact, just this week, the administration decided that khalid shaikh mohammed, mastermind of 9/11, will be tried in a military tribunal at guantanamo bay. was that promise a fundamental misreading of the practicalities and very difficult issues involved in shutting down that prison? >> no, and i think the president has tried to follow through and with great success with the american people. in this particular case -- and listen, the president's been clear, and we've had some success with civilian trials with terrorism suspects, but he also said there is a place for military commissions. it was clear -- here we are almost ten years from 9/11 with
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ksm, that he would either sort of be in limbo forever or we could finally get some justice for the american people and the victims. and so, that was a decision that the attorney general made and the president -- >> but he misread his ability to shut down guantanamo in a time of war against terrorism. >> well, i think he's tried very hard to do it, as you know. there is obviously steep resistance in congress. and the president has to make a decision. you could the have ksm sort of be in limbo forever, have no justice for the victims of 9/11, or you can move forward to a military commission and that's a decision of the attorney general that the president agreed with. >> we'll leave it there. mr. plouffe, thank you very much. >> thank you, david. >> we turn to the chairman of the house budget committee, congressman paul ryan of wisconsin. welcome to "meet the press." >> thanks for having me. good to be here. >> i want to start where i started with mr. plouffe. how much responsibility do republicans take for this spectacle of a near shutdown of the government, and shouldn't you all be embarrassed? >> well, we're here because the democrats didn't pass a budget last year. for the first time since 1974, the house didn't even bother
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trying to pass a budget last year, so that's why we're here. now, i feel like we had a pretty good outcome. we represented one-third of the negotiators, but we got two-thirds of the spending cuts we were asking for. this is really still a drop in the bucket. we want to move from talking about saving billions to saving trillions of dollars. >> and that's what's in the substance of your budget. >> budget, right. >> what about the debt ceiling fight? front page of the papers this morning, that's the next big fight ahead. you heard senator hitchson says that's going to be armageddon. what has to happen to say we can raise the debt ceiling? >> well, i'm pleased with what mr. plouffe said. he's saying things can go as a part of this. so, we believe, accompanying any debt ceiling, you need real fiscal reforms, real spending cuts and real spending controls going forward so we can deal with the debt in the future. the debt ceiling is hitting $14 trillion at probably the end of may because of past spending. we want to make sure future spending doesn't give us this
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problem in the future. >> will there be specific cuts or reforms that have to be in place? >> i think that is what we are looking for. i don't want to get into our negotiations, but real spending cuts and real spending controls, real caps on spending going forward, sort of take pressure off the debt and get this country on the right fiscal path. >> but what to think we're not going to be right back where we were this week when the next bigger fight over bigger numbers comes to pass? >> i'm not saying we're not going to be. i think there will be some kind of negotiations, and yes, it probably will go up to some sort of deadline. the debt ceiling deadline is a moving deadline, not a date certain deadline like the government shutdown. our strategy is not to default, it's to get spending under control. >> let's talk about -- i mean, this is the political environment that you're operating in as you produce the path to prosperity, your budget vision for next year. >> right. >> it was very interesting, a republican adviser to president bush and to john mccain, mark mckinnen, was quoted in "time" magazine saying the following about your budget outline. i want to put it on the screen. "it will completely transform the fiscal debate.
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it will either be the brilliant blaze that illuminates republican courage or roaring fire that immolate the party in a spectacular political suicide." how's that for choices? we've heard this before. >> i've heard this before. it didn't really matter to me. what matters to me is we fix the country's problems. this is the debt the cbo says we're going to have. we're giving our children a lower standard of living. our plan pays the debt off. we believe we need to own up to the fact that the country is on an unsustainable path and we've got to do something to fix this. >> but you're the budget chairman and you have your charts, i understand -- >> i have more. >> i know you do. but you also have a reality. you heard david plouffe say this is not going to pass. it might pass the house, it won't pass the senate and certainly not become law. is this going to be a campaign document? >> no, not at all. we need a clean break from the policies of the pass. both parties use hyperrhetoric and demagoguery and we have political paralysis and don't fix the country's problems, but
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we have a debt crisis staring us in the face, and that's what's got to be fixed. >> let's talk about some of the details and then go through some of the items that are in your plan, just to give our viewers some context. we'll put it up on the screen. you cut as part of your proposal $6.2 trillion over ten years. with regard to medicare, starting in 2022, would no longer be an open-ended entitlement, which we'll talk about. medicaid would also be changed. it would become a block grant to states. $750 billion cut over ten years. taxes. the bush tax cuts would be made permanent, something you know the president opposes. and for individuals, the top rate would be cut to 25% from 35%. now, you can expect that democrats would come out -- >> sure. >> -- and oppose this. and to your mind, even demagogue it. but here was a response from erskine bowles and allan simpson, co-chairs of the bipartisan debt commission -- >> they're friends of mine. >> this is what they said in part -- let me put it on the screen. your plan "largely exempts
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defense spending from exemptions and would not apply any of the savings from eliminating or reducing tax expenditures as part of tax reform to deficit reduction. as a result, it relies on much larger reductions in domestic discretionary spending than does the commission proposal, while also calling for savings in some safety net programs, cuts which would place a disproportionately adverse effect on disadvantaged populations." they're making the same point as the white house, that this is on the backs of the poor and middle class. this is not a shared sacrifice document. >> actually, if you read the earlier part of their statement, they said it's an honest, serious and credible proposal. a couple of things. we basically take the thrust of -- i was on the fiscal commission. >> you voted against it. >> i did vote against it because it didn't do anything about the health care costs, which is the big driver of our debt. but our tax reform plan goes in the same direction, which is get rid of all the special interest loopholes so you can lower tax rates. it's the higher income earners who use the special interest loopholes. get rid of the loopholes, lower the rates, make our economy more competitive. flatter, fairer, simpler tax
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system. with respect to the safety net, our goal is to repair the safety net, make it more sustainable. safety net spending grows every year under the budget. medicare and medicaid spending grows every year under this budget. what we're trying to do is save medicare and medicaid so they're sustainable. but also, the safety net is tearing apart at the seams. >> i want to break that down a little more, but let me stop you on the tax issue. do taxes at some point have to be raised if you're really going to get into the realm of asking something of the american people, shared sacrifice, not just helping upper earners? >> shared sacrifice, meaning sort of indiscriminate cuts across the board is what you do in a debt crisis. we're trying to preempt a debt crisis. so we're keeping the eye on the ball on spending cuts and growth. the president just raised taxes $800 billion, is calling for another $1.85 trillion in tax increases. you slow down economic growth. we want job creation, economic growth. that's why if you go down the tax increase path, you're sacrificing the economy. and especially when the fact that the problem we have is
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spending, not taxes, spending's the root cause of our deficit and debts, every time we -- >> but you can't cut your way to a balanced budget. how do you do that? >> we don't -- look, we take $6.2 trillion of spending out of the president's baseline, meaning we bring spending down towards historic levels. the president is proposing to keep government as large as it's ever been forever. we don't think the answer to prosperity is borrowing and spending more money. we've got to get our spending under control because that's the root cause of our problems. and yes, if you get deficit reduction and the debt under control, that's going to help the economy today. >> but still no tax cuts in the future? >> we're talking about tax reform -- >> i'm sorry -- >> look, we have to recognize the fact that we're in global competition. we're competing against china and india. and when we tax our job creators more than they tax theirs, we lose, they win, and we don't want that to happen. >> let me talk more specifically about medicare and provide a little bit more clarity on this. i'm going to put something up from the "los angeles times"
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reported on wednesday. here's the headline -- "gop's budget shifts health burden. the plan reduces the federal government's role in medicaid and medicare in an effort to cut $5.8 trillion. it says the gop proposal would phase out direct payments to doctors and hospitals under medicare, scale back the medicaid program for the poor and disabled, throw out government subsidies that the health care law is to make available to millions of americans in 2014 that would force seniors to pay more for health care and make states cut back their government programs. that's according to the congressional budget office. is that not a reality? >> i'd just say a few things. number one, medicaid's broken, and throwing more money at a broken system doesn't work. we've gotten dozens of letters from governors saying give us the freedom to fix medicaid our own way in our own states and we're giving them that freedom. medicaid grows at a more sustainable rate. yes, we do repeal the law. fact number one, when medicare was created, men were living in their 60s, women were living in
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their 70s. now men are living in their 70s and women are living in their 90s. we had baby boomers were in their teens and they were babies when this started. now they're doubling the size of retirement we have. the price controls in medicare today are causing doctors to stop seeing patients, and medicare is the biggest contributor to skyrocketing health care costs. price controls, which is the current plan in medicare, doesn't work. what we think works to bring down price cost is competition, and we want to give seniors the power, the tools through competition to bring down costs. >> but you're talking about giving them the power and the tools. a couple points on that. first of all, didn't liberals win this argument when republicans tried to overhaul social security through private accounts? look at the vagueries of the market and what would have happened to seniors then. >> this is very different comparison. i think that's kind of a non sequ tomorrow. >> it's talking about the marketplace and in this case, the health care industry is
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somehow leaving seniors in the hands of the private health care market with a defined benefit. you're changing medicare as we know it. why don't you agree with government auditors who say the prices are going to go up for seniors? >> listen to what auditors are also saying -- the biggest threat to medicare is the status quo. medicare is going bankrupt in nine years, according to the congressional budget office. so, what are we doing? preserving and protecting it. no change occurs to medicare for anybody who's on medicare or ten years away from retiring, and for future generations, what we are proposing is a personalized medicare, a medicare system that works exactly like the health care i have as a member of congress and federal employees have. it would look like the prescription drug benefit or medicare advantage. so, we already have these kinds of ideas in practice. i mean, the prescription drug benefit came in 40% below cost projects because it harnesses choice and competition. we want comprehensive medicare plans available to seniors that they can pick from and have competitors compete for their benefit it works for federal employees, to the prescription
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drug benefit and it saves medicare. >> but let me ask you, is tax reform a more doable thing next year than entitlement reform? >> i don't know, because the president gave us a budget that didn't deal with any of the drivers of our debt, it doubles the debt in his first term, triples at the end of his budget. corporate tax reform i think -- i'm a member of the ways and means committee as well -- that is an area where i think everybody agrees it's hurting job creation and i think there is a decent chance. the tax reforms we have here are along the lines of the fiscal commission reforms. so, that is one area where i still hold some hope. i also hope social security reform is an area where we might have a shot at a bipartisan agreement this summer. >> i think the bigger issue for a lot of people -- look what's happened this past week. what do the american people want? they want more compromise between the two sides. >> that's right. >> and if you look at this budget, you're getting a lot of applause for being bold and courageous, but this is also an ideological document when it comes to taxes, when it comes to not going very far on cutting
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defense spending beyond what secretary gates has proposed. how about, you want to privatize fannie mae and freddie mac, the mortgage giants, when there is no market other than those two for the mortgages right now. >> the treasury department published it as something they would consider doing. >> but point is, don't the american people want more compromise than is embedded in this? >> so, they don't want us yelling at each other. they want a clean break from the politics of the past and want a fact-based conversation about fixing this economy. we want to get the economy growing and get back to work, save our social security, medicare, our retirement programs for this generation and future generations, repair the social safety net so that it works, not to encourage people to go on welfare, but to get back on their feet and pay off this debt. this plan, using cbo numbers, gets the debt paid off so our children -- you and i are the same age, same age of our children -- we want to give our children a debt-free nation. that's what this plan does. i think that's what this country wants. they want growth, they want a debt-free nation, they want
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government to begin living within its means and stop spending money we don't have. >> the problem that you've always had, that republicans love to talk about you as a smart guy with really good ideas, but they don't actually support you. >> yeah. >> you had 14 co-sponsors the last time you tried this -- >> that's up from eight the session before. >> right. one congressman, a key member in the congress, is saying he'll probably not vote for this compromise. who's with you? you're talking about -- incomers and outside? >> we'll talk about it friday. this budget comes to the floor on friday. i think what mike pence is talking about is the continuation resolution, the deal boehner got with the president. this budget, we had unanimous republican vote in the budget committee just this week. this will be on the floor thursday and friday. and i expect we will pass this from the republican caucus on friday. >> what about members who are running for the presidency? who's with you on this? >> i don't pay attention to all that. honestly, i'm busy trying to write a budget -- >> but you can operate in a
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political fashion if you want it to become law. >> but i've heard all of the candidates have been in support of this. >> chairman ryan, we'll keep tabs on it. >> thank you. >> thank you for being here. appreciate it. coming up, the government shutdown threat was just the beginning. more tough issues ahead on spending, including next year's budget and a vote to raise the debt ceiling, all of this against the backdrop of 2012. the tea party is clamong for change. president obama gears up for his re-election bid. what does the political landscape look like? we'll analyze it all with our political roundtable. "the new york times'" helene cooper, chairman and ceo of the special olympics, tim shriver, cnbc's jim cramer and nbc's chuck todd. [ male announcer ] your hard work has paid off. and you want to pass along as much as possible to future generations. at northern trust, we know what works and what doesn't. as one of the nation's largest wealth managers,
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coming up, what impact will these spending showdowns have on the 2012 campaign. my roundtable is here, chuck todd, helene cooper, jim cramer, coming up.
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we're back joined by our roundtable. white house correspondent for "the new york times," helene cooper, nbc chief correspondent and reporter chuck todd, host of cnbc's "mad money," the mild man, jim cramer, and chairman and ceo of the special olympics and contributor to "the washington post," tim shriver. here was the headline in "the washington post," chuck todd --
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"bitter fight makes both sides and washington itself look bad." you cannot come away from this week and think this is a low moment for our policy makers and politicians. >> they were arguing over it. at one point it was 0.83% of the federal budget, so less than 1%. and then at end of that $300 million provision about planned parenthood, you're arguing over a tenth of a percent inside the federal budget. so, it did seem silly at the end, especially when it wasn't money separating them, it was the culture wars over the last 35 years separating them, almost bringing us to this brink. so, no, it wasn't -- it was a low moment for much of the week. what's been amazing is, though, in the last 48 hours, how both sides -- it's one of those rare cases, both sides want to declare some victories here in a way we haven't seen them before. they're each praising each other. look at david plouffe saying there's real trust here. that's not true. there is real distrust after this process. >> well has been poisoned? you chronicled it this morning in the "times," helene.
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there are tough fights in this. nobody can be happy or claim victory when it went so close to a shutdown. >> that's absolutely true. and even though, you know, you see both of them -- you see president obama and congressman boehner sitting there saying -- standing up and declaring victory, the reality was this was very, very close. even up until 10:30 at night, we had aides at the white house, they had sequestered a bunch of reporters, some photographers and cameramen from 4:00 in the afternoon right in the east room next to the blue room where obama was going to make his speech. they wanted him to stand in front of the window with the washington monument in the back to be clear that it would be open. but for six hours, these people, these press people sat there, not allowed to tell anybody where they were, anything like that, while president obama's aides fluttered about not knowing whether or not they had a deal or not why you get that close to the wire, that's pretty scary. >> you talk about that moment, tim shriver said this was the moment. the president finally does speak after all those hours, and he makes a presentation about a couple of things. one, that cutting spending is
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something that has to happen. but when it comes to the showdown, he made another point. >> behind me, through the window, you can see the washington monument, visited each year by hundreds of thousands from around the world. tomorrow i am pleased to announce that the washington monument as well as the entire federal government will be open for business. >> the message was clear. here he was to save the day, that it was president obama and he went to the lincoln memorial on saturday, that he was able to rise above the fray. that's the image they want americans to see. >> i think the president appears to be a mediator. and i think he rightfully gets some credit for averting the shutdown. but i think on the other hand, most of this is lost on average americans. i don't think most americans know what they fought over. i don't think most americans understand the implications of this discussion. i think most americans are thinking about things far from whether or not the government's going to shut down, frankly. yes, they want their parks open, but their parks are important to them because for 100 years, the country believed in the land and the earth and preserving space
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for the public good. that's important to americans. they don't see the big picture here. they're less would nanting by t discussion, happy that it's over. compromise is great. do they see unity? do they see direction? do they see a call to greatness? i think we're all left hungry by this discussion. >> jim cramer, you follow the economy and markets closely. people still see high unemployment and an uncertain path for the economy. >> i bring good news for the unemployment front. i think it is rapidly getting better and i think that will go down to the president's benefit, without a doubt. we did dodge a bullet here. we had gold skyrocketing going into friday, oil climbing. these could both reverse. interest rates have been going up, too, because what we are is at a moment where people have very little trust in our government overseas, and we need their money. but jobs are getting better. jobs are getting better. >> but when you look at something like this, you look at an inability to agree on matters of spending, a sense of certainty out of government.
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that can't bode well for how the markets, at least, view our debt situation, our housing situation. >> well, there's no doubt about it. they joked about the idea of what is armageddon, but armageddon just means that perhaps we have a situation like portugal or like ireland, like greece, england, france. all these countries cut back because they fear the international monetary fund, they fear the rating agencies for their own debt. we have to have that fear because we're off course versus the others. >> what about conservatives, chuck? you heard chairman ryan say, look, we came out pretty well on this. what is true is that republicans are driving the debate. cutting spending -- >> yes. >> cutting the deficit is what the president now is forced to talk about. >> it wasn't until the last 24 hours of the showdown did the democrats make a policy argument, and they were simply making a policy argument because the women senators in the democratic senate were drawing a line saying don't go here on planned parenthood. don't throw this under the bus. you're throwing everything else under the bus. because you're right, boehner essentially using the planned
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parenthood rider, and my apologies for using rider, but using this planned parenthood amendment, the idea of defunding it, as a way to bring the democrats and the white house from essentially zero to $38.5 billion in extra cuts. and you're right, the conversation wasn't policy. this isn't -- you know, bill clinton in 1995 and '96 was able to turn this into medicare, medicaid, environment and education. they're trying to have that conversation, but they're not, and i thought today, i thought it was interesting and telling and, in essence, a give to the republicans when david plouffe said we're all committed to reducing the deficit, we're all committed to reducing the debt. >> you think the president's going to talk about it this week without a plan -- >> this is on their turf. it tells you where they think independent voters are, and that's all this care about. >> for the table here, there's a bigger issue. i'll start with you, tim. what we see in this fight, what is coming on the debt ceiling fight, and then, of course, the budget for next year, the conservatives have a challenge. speaker boehner's got a challenge. he's got a tea party caucus that
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is made up of folks who do not believe their job coming here is to legislate or compromise. it is to stick to the appeals they got aelected on. that is not point of congress, is it? >> that's not the point, but i think people respect that these people have strong beliefs. standing up for what you believe in has always been part of the american identity, standing up for what you believe and are willing to lose. i wonder what democrats are willing to lose for in this election. i think the tea party folks are making a strong point. we're willing to lose over this. we're willing to lose over this fight. the problem i think most americans find is they're not clear on what those people are willing to build the country to do. they understand cutting. they understand fiscal responsibility. i think everybody does. but people, americans are hungry for greatness, too, you know? americans see what's going on in the middle east and say we should be a role model for these countries. we should be the sort of beacon for what people believe democracy should be. we don't want to be just the country that talks endlessly
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about being broke and needing to destroy the fabric, the social fabric. we want to be the country that talks about what we want to do for the next generation of children, not just to relieve them of debt, but to inspire them to believe this is a great country again. >> yet, even some of those ideals, depending upon your point of view -- if you think somebody like a chairman ryan embodies that by what he's talking about on the budget is tempered by a political reality. charlie cook writes about it in his column in "the national journal" on saturday. i'll put a portion of it up on the screen. it's a little short of suicidal to drop a medicare reform package, even a voucher plan that would be optional for those currently older than 55, into tough budget negotiations stymied over republican demands for deep budget cuts. democrats have issues going ballistic for seniors doing anything with medicare that can't be portrayed as an increase or essentially a cut and they will fight it to their last breath. medicare reform is a dangerous territory to go in. house republicans are not just pushing the envelope, they are
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soaking it with lighter fluid and waving a match at it." >> i think the president came out very much above this week, above the fray. i think he's going to do it again. i think he knows and i think ben bernanke is telling him, listen -- the fed chairman -- you'd better get this stuff together because rates are going to start going up rather dramatically once we're done buying bonds, which is going to be in july-august. the president knows this has to be solved within the next 12 months or it's going to hurt his re-election. interest rates will go up dramatically precisely because of medicare. >> what about this entitlement fight they're starting on the republican side? >> i think president obama's making a calculus right now that -- traditionally, presidents versus congress, whenever they go head to head, the president usually looks better. and throughout the past week, president obama, i mean, on friday morning he called his aides into the oval office and said this is the same time harry reid was out there saying they're throwing women under the bus, and he said be quiet, don't say that much. when he went out during the week, whenever he came out, you know, after these budget sessions with boehner and reid,
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he refrained from the out-and-out political attacks. he pulled back. he was trying very much to appear above the fray. it's going to be different when you go after -- when you start the entitlement fight, but i think for now, you know, obama's definitely did the political calculus that he has to steer above it all, presidential. >> we'll take a break. i want to come back with chuck on the politics of this budget fight. plus, our political unit battleground map for 2012. more with our panel when we come back after this. you could get arrested for that you know. it's not what you think. look. there was a time when a company like that would envy us. little outfit. it's almost quaint. all these years we had something they could never have. something only the biggest operations could ever afford. it was our strategic advantage. now they have it. what exactly is "it" that they have? logistics.
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we're back with our roundtable to talk 2012 politics. first of all, the budget fight, congressman ryan's plan. you heard david plouffe today, nod not a shared document and on and on. how are they going to deal with
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it some. >> the white house are licking their chops about it. they're saying this is good. they can't believe all those running for president signed on to it. they say they own it and good luck. >> mitt romney said some good things about this. >> good luck carrying the state of florida with that. one thing we wanted to quickly bring up is what we saw boehner have to do is a preview. if you're running for president, that's a preview of this push-and-pull you're going to have to do, which is you're going to have to appease the tea party, but be careful becoming them. and that's going to be this challenge, right? tim pawlenty and mitt romney want to appease them, have them in the tent, but if you alienate them too much, they'll throw them overboard, which is the fear boehner had all the time. it's an interesting preview of the republican primary process and how that's going to work on it. >> let's look at our battleground we have here for 2012. we're all in this together. so, here it is. in yellow are those toss-up states. what does the president do to hang on to these states? >> well, look, there's sort of -- i would divide them up -- you see they're in groupings --
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there's ten of them, but i'd divide them into three. the southern ones, the new south florida, carolina and virginia. if that's it, it's over, the president wins re-election. you have the midwestern states of iowa, wisconsin and ohio. if the october battleground is iowa, republicans have a good chance of winning. then the three western states have a rising hispanic population, and that is sort of the trump card here for the president. if republicans don't get their act together with hispanics and those states aren't in play in october 2012, they've got serious problems, too. so, that's sort of, you know, the geographical way of breaking it down. the economy is driving everything in those middle three states. the president lost huge ground in 2010 there. he's trying to get it back. >> tim, part of the issue is you have the president making an argument, look, i'm for cutting the budget, i'm for dealing with the deficit, but i'm not as extreme as those other guys. i'll be much more of a centrist guy than those republicans. that's the argument. >> and i think he has a claim there. i think the question really, you
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know, that i think we have to answer in 2012 is what were we so angry about in 2010? what really is the root of that anger? i think most people would answer a lack of jobs, lack of a strong middle class, lack of growing income, lack of purpose, lack of fulfillment, lack of vision. i think the president has a strong case to make if the economy's recovering, and if he can say that he is being fair, i think, my own view is that what americans want is fairness. they want a fair chance. they don't mind rich people getting rich. they just want to see everybody has a chance to be that rich guy. i don't think today they believe that everybody has a chance. i think they think the playing field is unfair. i think people at the bottom don't feel the ladder is there for them. i think if the president can make the case, or if the republicans can make the case that the shared and fairness ingredient is being hit, i think either of the parties have a chance to say to the americans who are angry, channel this anger in a direction that's good for the country. >> you look at that battleground map and look at a state like
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nevada, you look at florida with high foreclosure rates and see a mortgage market that is still very much stuck, a looming debt crisis, is this the unforeseen that really becomes next to unemployment are the big drivers of the re-election? >> somehow, the president has to link these things. he has to say, look, if we don't have budget discipline, then rates are going to go so high that florida's going -- you're never going to be able to sell your house if we don't have budget discipline. you have very little hope of having a better job next year at this time. he's not been able to link them. he hasn't been able to link higher gasoline prices to this, but that's what's driving it. because our house isn't in order, the dollar goes down, all our costs go up. he has not been able to relate that to. he has to by 2012 or it will elude the american people. >> there is a lot going on overseas, helene. you write and report on quite often. my colleague tom brokaw sat down with the saudi foreign minister today in saudi arabia, and among the topics was the future of libya, the future of moammar gadhafi. watch this exchange.
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>> should gadhafi leave? >> well, i don't know what his choices are, but anybody who has to fight to stay in tune with the people must think twice about it. >> one of the dilemmas for the united states and the west is they don't have a place for gadhafi to go. would he be welcome in saudi arabia, if he were to decide to leave power in libya? >> i think the united states must value saudi arabia, a place for him somewhere. >> not here? >> helene, asylum in the united states seems unlikely. >> wow. >> this is the end game on gadhafi. it just shows you the deep dislike in the arab world for him. >> it really does, but it also raises an interesting question. i think if moammar gadhafi is still in place come the 2012
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campaign, barack obama should be very, very worried about his own presidential re-election. i think clearly what's going on in the middle east i think will play a big -- how it's shaped up will play a big role in this presidential re-election campaign. and they're very, very worried about it. when you look at the potential for dominos, and you look at the fact, look at what's going on right now in syria and look at -- you know, libya already -- we've only been there three weeks and it already looks bad. when three weeks into it, people are talking about the lengths this could take. he's not gone and shows no signs of leaving at this point. i think that's something they're very worried about at the white house. >> and this is a discipline operation. david plouffe, bill daley, others who would like the president to stick to a specific space in a re-election. chaos in the middle east is difficult to manage. >> i was talking to advisers in the white house and they were telling me how much they miss the first two years of the presidency because they felt they were debating economic
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policy. he said this new team is concerned about two issues -- re-election and the middle east. middle east is consuming the other half of their collective brains, and the other half is re-election. >> which is something that's happened to obama, president obama, ever since he got re-elected. they're always saying we want to get on the jobs agenda, jobs, jobs, jobs. this week we're going to do winning the future, we're going to do jobs. and each time, you end up seeing something else in this. >> all right. we're going to leave it there. thank you all very much. we'll be back with more in just a moment. to give our war fighters every advantage. ♪ [ man ] to deliver technologies that anticipate the future, today. ♪ and help protect america, everywhere. from the battle space to cyberspace. [ female announcer ] around the globe, the people of boeing are working together. to give our best, for america's best. that's why we're here. ♪
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week for a new edition of our "midweek press pass," and our latest edition up now. i spoke with potential gop presidential contender, former senator rick santorum. find out his take on how the gop field is shaping up. that's at presspass.nbc.com. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press." ♪ today is saturday ♪ salad on saturday ♪ fruit on friday ♪ throw a ball thursday ♪ water, water wednesday ♪ touch your toes tuesday ♪ ♪ let's move monday ♪ swap a snack sunday
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